This was the second court filing under the Biden administration in the ongoing lawsuit that forced the reunification of families separated at the border by the previous administration. In their first filing under the new administration in February, attorneys and organizations working on the ground to reunite separated families said they’d located the parents of an additional 105 children.
“The steering committee of pro-bono lawyers and advocates working on reunification said it had yet to find the parents of 506 children, down from 611 on Jan. 14, the last time it reported data to a federal judge overseeing the process,” NBC News reported at the time.
The Biden administration announced the following month that separated families would have the option of reuniting in the U.S. if they wished, and that it would partner with non-governmental organizations and the private sector to help families with services including transportation, mental healthcare services, as well as legal assistance.
“We are dedicating our resources throughout the Department of Homeland Security and the federal government, and bringing our full weight to bear, to reunite children who were cruelly separated from their parents,” Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “It is our moral imperative to not only reunite the families, but to provide them with the relief, resources, and services they need to heal.”
However, NBC News reports no parents as of yet have been returned to the U.S. CBS News immigration reporter Camilo Montoya-Galvez tweeted that he raised the issue during a call with administration officials, saying advocates Al Otro Lado, Justice in Motion, and the American Civil Liberties Union have identified separated parents in Central America who want to be reunited in the U.S. “The DHS official said the cases are being processed, saying the gov’t can’t control some steps,” Montoya-Galvez tweeted.
“The DHS official says the gov’t has requested information for some of these parents, and that some need to secure travel documents,” he continued. “’Nothing has been frozen in place because we’ve been looking through and checking other files,’ the official said. ‘We’re doing it simultaneously.’”
“Thank you for asking about our families,” Al Otro Lado responded to Montoya-Galvez’s thread. “We rep parents who were deported from their children during zero tolerance. We know where they are, we know where the children are. Getting them travel docs isn’t hard. We’ve already reunited 36 fams w out gov help. What is the hold up?” Among the families that Al Otro Lado has assisted were Jose and his son Irwin, who were reunited in 2019 after 324 days apart.
“Some of the separated parents and children may have found a way to reunite on their own, but have not notified the committee, the court or the government,” NBC News reported.
The federal task force announced by the Biden administration has also said it would consider additional family members of children who were separated for reunification. “The Task Force will identify and implement long-term reform efforts to ensure that family separations not based on the best interests of the child are not permitted to occur again,” a statement continued.